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Opinion - Media and politics in Namibia

2021-11-08  Staff Reporter

Opinion - Media and politics in Namibia
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The relationship between politics and media in Namibia is worrisome. These relations of the two fields are defined mainly by the underdevelopment of the Swapo Party’s hegemony over the press. Swapo party is a political party like any other political party in Namibia organised for the purpose of winning government power, by electoral or other means (Andrew, 2007.p.272). According to Heywood (2007), politics is the exercise of power, the exercise of authority, the making of collective decisions, and the allocation of scarce resources, the practice of deception and manipulation and so forth. From the definition above, one can deduce that politics is concerned with those who rule and those who are ruled. The national broadcaster is generally government-dominated news coverage. In addition, the ruptured state of the public broadcaster, the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), continues to cause great concern, with funding shortfalls (leading to regular appeals to the government for further cash injections), a lack of perceived neutrality (especially noticeable during the 2009 election campaigns), leadership issues, May-June 2020 labour strike and excessive turnover since the strike (media suitability index, 2010). The media supported politically and ideologically the political power and in turn, the political power supported and provided the media with vast subsidies and public contracts. Henceforth, the institutions of the mass media are important to contemporary politics in Namibia (Antonis, 2006). Under the current political dispensation which has been obtained in Namibia for several years since 1992 and after independence, the control of broadcasting facilities such as New Era publication, Namibia Press Agency (Nampa), and indeed the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), has vested in the government as per their statutory acts and this is obsolete in a democratic dispensation like Namibia. Certain limitations are therefore placed on foreign control of private broadcasting services whether directly or indirectly. For these, the media’s loyalty should be to citizens and the truth, and no effort should be spared to ensure that citizens receive accurate information about the elections. Moreover, multiple sourcing must be practised helping in the search for the truth. Additionally, unfounded speculations that have the potential of inflaming tensions should be avoided. Likewise, truth and justice should not be sacrificed in the name of peace. 

Additionally, reporting should be accompanied by sufficient context that helps citizens make sense of what is unfolding. Henceforth, media practitioners including those at private media houses should avoid “active politics, gender neutralism” and be “apolitical” like members of the coercive force (police officers, soldiers) and members of the judiciary for impartiality, neutrality, objectivity and independent of their works. However, they must grasp extensive knowledge of the Namibian, SADC, African and World historical, political and economic background for efficacy in journalism. To sum up, Article 21 (2) offers reasonable restriction on freedom of expression in Namibia on the exercise of such rights and freedoms, which rights can also be limited if this should be required in the interests of national security.

2021-11-08  Staff Reporter

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